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Saturday 5th July - Monday 28th July 2014
Mark Van Beirs
On our fifth visit to the rarely birded islands and out of the way mountain ranges of Papua New Guinea, we explored the remote islands of Manus and Tong in the Admiralties, New Ireland and Tench in the Bismarcks, the isolated Adelbert range and the fabled Huon peninsula on the northern watershed of mainland New Guinea and secluded Fergusson Island in the D’Entrecasteaux Archipelago. The breath-taking, displaying Emperor Birds-of-paradise of the Huon won our hearts by a large margin, although the intriguing Goldie’s Birds-of-paradise of the eastern islands were also much beloved. We obtained great views of the exquisite Wahnes’s Parotia, gaped in awe at a day-roosting Marbled Frogmouth, enjoyed jaw-dropping studies of magnificent Fire-maned Bowerbirds, admired awkward Pesquet’s Parrots, looked mesmerized at a Greater Sooty Owl, were totally enthralled by dainty Louisiade White-eyes (a new bird for the Birdquest lifelist!) and were charmed by cooperative Yellow-billed and Mountain Kingfishers. The seabird island of Tench was a staunch favourite with everyone, as the bizarre Nicobar Pigeons and the brilliant seabird spectacle was truly out of this world. Mammals were not very obvious on this tour, but we had some enchanting encounters with Indo-Pacific Bottle-nosed Dolphins and Spinner Dolphins. The logistics worked quite well on this trip, Air Niugini did a fair job, the seas were smooth, the boats were comfortable and we only experienced a few minor hiccups. This is an ideal trip to take after having tasted the goodies of New Guinea on our regular Papua New Guinea tour, as this is an avian adventure which provides quality rather than quantity, as only a handful of rare and very localized birds-of-paradise, bowerbirds, kingfishers and pigeons make it to the final birdlist.